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The chapel at Unity Village

The Chapel at Spring Hill College

I am writing to you from the small unity chapel in Unity Village while on a retreat hosted by my friend Suzanne Giesemann. I am so grateful to be here with 182 beautiful souls….

I have to admit that I’ve been distracted, out of balance and way out of sorts the past few weeks.

Overworked, over life, over death, moving out and moving in.

We finally completed the building of our home and have moved out of a rental and into a new chapter, but not before our world came to a halt in one instant on a beautiful sunny morning.

William was a part of our lives for the past 10 years. Bright, fun, kind and loving, he was a son to a us, a mom and dad of three girls. He was the best friend of our middle one Elise, generous with his time with our youngest, Aubrie, always a helper and he vacationed with us as one of our own.

He was deeply troubled with lifelong regret for someone so young. This was something that he spoke of often with my husband who was his mentor and as odd as it may seem for a 21 year old and a 49 year old to be best friends.. they were.

William was an old soul and John loved the fun and life lessons conversations that they shared. He and I shared a bond of deep, thought provoking, question and answer sessions. He knew the afterlife, always questioning his existence.

He recently moved to Seattle, away from everyone that he loved, to make a fresh start. He was there for 3 short months when he took his own life on March, 3 days before our move into our new home.

He chose this time for many reasons, but I cannot help to feel as though he wanted us to be in a good place, yet not in our new home, when we received the news. We were that close and that’s something that he would have thought of in advance. He wrote us each a letter and also a note explaining his decision.

Devastation. Heart break. Sorrow. Depth of Loss.. like I’ve never known has consumed me. My heart was torn. I watched my family mourn in depth of sorrow and despair.

Within 30 minutes of hearing the news I drove 2 hours to see Elise in person. I had to be with her. I couldn’t let anyone get to her before I did. I did this alone. My husband just couldn’t, he was broken, something which I have never seen.

I arrived as a surprise and in a jovial voice asked her to meet me in the chapel on her campus grounds. It’s teeny tiny and precious, surrounded by the headstones of the Jesuit priests who have served there.

She didn’t ask why the chapel, she knows her momma loves this tiny piece of heaven. As she entered she saw my face, knew by the look of me that my world was shattered, taking hesitant steps towards me as I stood in front of the altar, she simply said with deep concern on her face.. “what has happened to make you so upset?”

I took her face in my hands, looking into her big blue eyes, knowing that this moment in time would change my child’s life forever…the words escaped me… I could not speak.

I lead her to the altar to a crystal clear heart that William gave her this past Christmas with an inscription which told of his love for her as the best friend he could ever have… as she saw this, she dropped to the ground as if in a faint and wailed. I pray to never hear that sound again.

Her heart was shattered and splintered into tiny pieces all at once.

She had just spoken to him not 12 hours earlier and he insisted that he was doing well only wanting to hear her voice, he said. He told her that he loved her and while she slept sent her a message saying, “know that nothing that I will ever do, has anything to do with you”. It was cryptic but not unlike William.

She woke up to exam day and by lunchtime her world had changed.

As she sat there sobbing, she yelled out… “WILLIAM, I KNOW THAT YOU ARE HERE!!! I FEEL YOU… COME TO ME… “ Softly she says, “I’m begging you! Let me put my arms around you one last time and hold you tight!”

Just as she said these words… the old oak door to the church was pulled open as someone was walking in purposefully. We sat up with a start, waiting for someone to walk through to door boldly… no one did, physically at least.

Elise says, “He’s here!” After a few seconds we both reached out our arms and pulled him in. We felt his energy, an electrical current, his large frame and we hugged him tight in a threesome and sobbed.

All at once we both let go as we felt him pull away gently, leaving us in one another’s arms. We stared at nothingness as we both knew that he was leaving. As we sensed him at the end of the aisle, the door as if pulled by an invisible string, pull closed behind him… as we heard the door lock click in place.

No words. We sat in awe at this magical experience that we still have not spoken of, nor questioned. For we both know that we received a gift that day for which we are eternally grateful.

William showed up like he always did to comfort us in our time of need. I tried so hard to make him want to live, I feel as though I should feel like I failed him… but I don’t. His letter to me told so and for that I am eternally grateful to William.

Each of us felt his loss in different ways. Me as losing a son, John as losing the fight to help someone that he had such a strong bond with, Elise feeling like she somehow failed as a friend and Aubrie not really understanding it all as she saw William as always being happy and fun, Lauren feeling empathy and compassion for his state of mind.

It hasn’t even been a month since his transition.

We are at Peace with his transition knowing that this truly has set his soul free. It’s what he wanted.. It’s certainly not what we wanted, but we loved William, and knew of his pain and respect his choice, even though our hearts are broken.

If there’s one thing that we have each learned from my work, it’s that death is not the end.

As little 10 year old Aubrie said after the shock of his death, “Mom, the best but the hardest thing is knowing that I will see William again, but he will be 21 and I will be an old lady… but is it weird to say that I will look forward to that day?”

“No my love”, I reply with tears in my eyes, “William will be happy to hold you no matter how old you are and look at how lucky you are to now always have him at your side”…

…“and in my heart” she says softly.

Sending you so much love from Unity Village.

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